Ever thought of doing improv? Or how about just talking to random strangers on a bus or train while wearing a button that reads, I talk to strangers. Last but now least… ever try Bubble BFF in order to try and make friends as an adult.
Jessica Pan, the author of Sorry I’m Late: I Didn’t Want to Come did all of these things and then some over the course of one year in order to prove to herself that introverts can actually do these things that are terrifying to us.
I found SILIDWTC to be a good mixture of Susan Cain’s Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking and Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. According to Goodreads I read Quiet five years ago. I remember that was the first book that introduced me to the term introvert. The book really was an ah ha moment for me. It reminded me that it was okay to need the time away from people to recharge. And that I am not being anti-social or shy; there are definitely differences in their definitions. Year of Yes I read three years ago and it was about how Ms Rhimes has the tendency to say NO to a lot of things because she is a successful working mother so for a year, she said YES to everything – like going on a late night television program which I guess in the past she would have said no to.
Jessica Pan, an introvert, made a promise with herself to extrovert for a year. She even made a list, where she came up with these list of things I am not sure but her list included: improv, vacation alone and talking to strangers. All of which sound God awful to me (except vacationing alone – that sounds amazing) but she made a promise to herself and kept it. You go girl.
I don’t like talking to people I actually know, I can’t imagine talking to a complete stranger. Even though since reading this book I am trying to do better. The other day when I was leaving the gym after a taking a new class a woman started talking to me about the class and I was actually talking to her about the class. It felt good. I’m still a fan of headphones while grocery shopping but won’t actually hurt to talk to a complete stranger, just uncomfortable.
Bubble BFF, anyone? For those of you unfamiliar, like I was it – it is Tinder, but for friendship. And it is harder to make friend dates than it is romantic dates. Glad I am not the only one who thought that. Just like I have always thought it hurt more to lose a friendship then a romantic partner.
As you get older and outgrow your old friends, you have to actively go out and find your people.
Improv. Am I the only one who connects improv with stand-up comedians and want to be actors. While I am sure that is a big part of it what improv is, Pan says that improv is the adult form of play. She also says that comedy is a cure for shyness. Which I get, a few years ago when I was doing booktube I found that to be helpful in finding my voice. I really stopped being afraid to speak while I was doing that. So I get it. Pan also talked about how her improv routine was at times debilitating; it reminded me of when I had to interview for a new position at my office. It had been almost 13 years since I had to interview, and a panel interview at that – I have no idea what happened in that interview. Pan talked about how she walked off stage not knowing what the hell happened at times. But she did the hard thing even though she was terrified. And I have to gather that is kind of the point. It is hard for us to put ourselves out there but we are totally capable of doing it. It just takes a little more work for us.
It is invigorating doing something that everyone else is afraid to.
Think about it. Introvert, or extrovert, would you not only take an improv class but participate in a stand-up routine. While a lot of the world seems to be okay with talking to strangers, how many would go into the woods and take psychedelic mushrooms with some women you met on a friendship app? How about inviting ten people to your house that don’t know each other over for a dinner party? The thought alone of hosting a dinner party scares me, let alone having ten people in my house who only common denominator is me.
A disagreeable introvert is not necessarily constrained to a life of unhappiness.Brian R Little
The point is… we all have the ability and sometimes the need to act “out of character” for ourselves. That concept is called “free traits”. Acting contrary to our natural disposition. When we need to act as an outgoing, confident person, we can be. We can only be and do these things when we absolutely have to be. If I answer the phone at work and there is a hysterical person on the other end and they have a knife on them. Without a thought I can speak in my big girl voice and tell them to put the knife down and wait outside for the officers. But I have yet to make it to one of my library book club meetings because honestly… (which is weird because I have made it a full blown hobby to talk to strangers on the internet about books)
This is how life is; we nearly die and ten minutes later we’re throwing a fit about a speeding ticket we got on the way back from the hospital.
My takeaway from this whole book was the bear analogy that Pan made: If everyone says don’t go in the room because there’s a bear and you say, it’s fine – I got this. There is power to that. Even when the bear mauls your leg and you’re bleeding at least you faced the magnificent fucker. Some people never see the bear. Some people never make it into the room.
With that, Jessica Pan, I tip my hat to you. You saw the bear and entered the room anyway.